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Regional airlines in crisis

Australia fears loss of important regional routes

A number of Australian regional airlines fear an end within days. They are making an urgent appeal to the government.

It’s a very short deadline indeed. Eight Australian regional airlines are demanding promises of aid from the government within 24 hours. «The financial survival of our companies can be counted in days rather than weeks,» says a letter from Fly Pelican to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.

The letter, dated Thursday (26 March), was signed by competitors Airlink Airlines, Aviair, Alliance Airlines, Chartair, Fly Corporate, Hardy Aviation and Sharp Airlines. Without immediate financial aid, Australia «is likely to experience a decline of regional air services,» the airlines warn. They are small and medium-sized companies that serve important routes between Australian towns and cities. Those are unattractive for large airlines, the letter says.

No more tourist flights to islands
Fly Pelican operates a fleet of five Jetstream 32’s. It has already had to abandon the Sydney – Taree and Newcastle – Sydney routes due to the Corona crisis. On her website she complains about a 90 percent collapse of her business. Another example: Sharp Airlines, which operates with Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner and Cessna Conquest, is no longer allowed to fly tourists to the islands of King Island and Flinders Island, which lie between Australia’s mainland and Tasmania, due to the corona travel restrictions.

The most famous signatory is probably Alliance Airlines. It operates a fleet of more than 40 Fokker 50, Fokker 70 and Fokker 100, and has already taken over aircraft from Austrian Airlines and Helvetic Airways, among others.

Saab specialist issues ultimatum
At the beginning of the week, the airline Regional Express Rex had already given the Australian government «an ultimatum», as it itself put it: if the Australian government or the state governments do not step in with the losses by the end of the week, it will stop its extensive scheduled flights in all states except Queensland from 6 April. The current aid would not be sufficient. Rex operates a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340s.

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